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Saturday, March 4, 2017


By Doreen Ludwig,
Author of "Motherless America: Confronting Welfare's Fatherhood Custody Program", see link:
Legislating Shared Parenting Awards Male Control
Fathers have succeeded in expanding public acceptance of shared parenting; creating the impression that shared parenting is the best situation for children whose parents no longer live together. Shared parenting has become so culturally normalized that in the Fall of 2016, Time Magazine endorsed it in “The Growing Case for Shared Parenting After Divorce” by Belinda Luscombe, going so far as to quote the nefarious father’s rights activist Jeffrey Leving. 
Why Not?
Perhaps shared parenting is idyllic for high-income adults who spend the bulk of their time at jobs away from the home, where surrogates do the bulk of parenting.  Two high-income parents can afford to offer continuity and stability, filling the child’s time with quality activities outside of the parent’s realm.  These parents can afford, and may be more prone to use, technological communication systems designed to support two-household coordination.
But what happens when dissolution is due to high levels of physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment of one adult and the children?  Where the mother has overwhelmingly performed child care duties?  What if alcoholism, drug addiction or criminal behavior exists?  Do non-offending parents have to co-parent with an offending parent?  What if you leave because the other parent has no ability to compromise or discuss and resolve ordinary problems or help with household chores such as laundry and dishwashing?  Is an adult who neglects housekeeping and child care tasks during marriage suddenly going to excel at these tasks under shared parenting orders?  Will respectful communication and cooperation magically appear?
If a mother is living in the home with father and determines he is dangerous, she may decide to flee.  Without an official order of primary custody she can be charged with kidnapping.  A frightened woman is obligated to pursue a Protection Order solely to protect herself from criminal charges.  The Protection Order ignites custody litigation.  The abuser is offended, enraged.  If he has money he hires a lawyer and begins to strategize.  He may settle for shared parenting but more likely, he will ask for primary custody using claims of her abuse or he may request psychological appointment and lie in wait for that psychologist to label his target as crazy or alienating.  Shared parenting becomes the vehicle that abusers use to create a court record that will reverse the truth – the non-offending parent becomes the abuser merely because they demanded safety, stability and appropriate care for the children.
History of Shared Parenting
Shared parenting developed around the concept of conciliation or cooperation.  Family Court affiliated lawyers and mental health practitioners began to push mediation as a method to solve contested custody.  Family court industry insiders call this “the velvet revolution.”
Contested custody occurs when parent file differing motions.  Because the parents cannot resolve the dispute, family court is authorized to determine custody; a Judge signs an official order outlining when the child will reside with each parent and which parent can make official decisions like medical care and education priorities.
Shared parenting has been promoted by the father’s rights community and other Patriarchal groups as an answer to contested custody.  An industry of court affiliates who require ongoing abuse to generate their profits has been built in conjunction with the push for shared parenting and the federal funding of fatherhood access, which acts as a conduit for special interests to control court processes.  Affiliates assert they “educate” parents on two subjects – getting along and the child’s need for a father regardless of maltreatment.  Fee-driven sessions purposely ignore bad behavior and punish parents who complain.  
Before the 60’s women and children were viewed as property of men. If she got out-of-line and resisted his domination, he could claim she was mentally ill and institutionalize her until she became willing to behave.  Mental health practitioners would help by administering lobotomies and shock therapy (electrical currents and ice baths).  When mental health reform made it illegal for maltreating males to commit a wife, males shifted “crazy-making” to the family court forum where they found a new batch of mental health practitioners who enjoy doling out therapeutic punishments to resistive family members.  The mental health practitioners migrated from institutions to private practice, specializing on the growing divorce population, finding comrades in litigators and father’s rights networks determined to “win” control.
Father’s Rights Scheme
Dr. Leora Rosen has documented the connection between the father’s rights agenda and custody law. In an academic research project entitled “Father’s Rights Groups:  Demographic Correlates and Impact on Custody Policy” Dr. Rosen and colleagues rated hundreds of male rights websites, noting the frequency of claims and topics such as: 
  • promotion of a presumption of joint custody or “shared parenting”; 
  • minimizing the occurrence of domestic violence or claiming that domestic violence is exaggerated; 
  • women are more violent than, or just as violent as, men; 
  • allegations of domestic violence are false and used manipulatively to gain advantage in divorce proceedings; 
  • false allegations of child abuse are used manipulatively to gain advantage in a divorce; 
  • promotion of parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome; and, mothers are the primary perpetrators of child abuse.
Dr. Rosen and her colleagues then compared father’s rights proliferation to a State’s passage of shared parenting laws. They concluded that high levels of father’s rights activity resulted in official and unofficial endorsement of shared parenting and “friendly parent” presumptions. (Friendly-parent laws penalize parents who attempt to minimize contact with an offending parent).

A major goal of the groups analyzed is the preservation of white male privilege and their income after divorce.  They exist to mitigate the financial damage of divorce - settlement and support obligation.  Father’s rights and fatherhood programs advocate shared parenting as a method to offset the costs of support.  Father’s rights, fatherhood programs and shared parenting is merely divorce backlash.  Men who feel threatened by real or perceived loss of power, resources and authority seek out peer subcultures that shore up their opposition to women’s empowerment.  When they get divorced their fear increases; they feel threatened.  The psychologically maltreating male is drawn to father’s rights propaganda because they are heavily invested in control.  These attitudes have created a fertile field for planting and growing the industry of court appointment that, rather than help families recover from the harm of relationship breakdown and maltreatment, fuels negative emotions and actions in order to transfer wealth from the family to the court profiteer. 

Court Ordered Decision-Makers

The nexus of court appointment belongs to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).  AFCC markets co-parenting and court affiliate appointment for those parents who have high levels of conflict.  A recent AFCC trend is to recognize inability to co-parent, instead, call for judicial orders for “parallel parenting.”  In these cases, an affiliate will be ordered to make decisions where parents cannot agree.  Parents could find themselves paying a mental health or legal professional to determine where and when their child can get a haircut, teeth cleaned, what sports they will pursue, and who can attend those activities.

The industry has developed products to support parallel parenting.  An AFCC shared parenting Arizona summit report outlines methods used to foster parallel parenting.
Judicial orders could require:  
  1. “Child News Report” parents are required to report to the other parent; details such as bedtimes, discipline, activities and friendships.  A parent is obligated to report all details of life during their time of custody.  A judge can even order what time and day of the week the parent is required to submit the report to the other parent.
  2. “12-month Calendar” visitation is set in stone for a year.  Parents are required to sign that they will uphold the particulars in the calendar.
  3. “Not-On-My-Time” limits parents autonomy; no activity can be scheduled without informing and the approval of the other parent. 
AFCC solves conflict by judicial orders that require the use of communication systems:
  1. Web-based –;;;
  2. Notebooks – the child carries a notebook and parents can only communicate in writing.  The judicial order can specify all details of life that are to be disclosed to the other parent.
  3. Email.
Harm of Male Control
A mom and dad divorce because of his maltreatment – physical and sexual abuse of the children.  The court orders shared parenting with father having primary legal custody – sole control of decisions pertaining to the children.  It is mother’s responsibility to drive for exchanges.  Dad is permitted to change the schedule on a weekly basis.  He files his schedule with the co-parenting coordinator, Barry Bricklin, a father’s rights court appointee. Some weeks Dad wants the children Monday through Friday and other weeks he wants them Thursday to Monday.  Mom never knows which days she gets to see her children until the last minute so coordinating her retail management job is impossible.  Mom and kids live in limbo; constantly having to respond to Dads dictates.  When the girls complain and ask the court for a more stable schedule they are turned away and mom is labeled an alienator, not fostering a positive parenting environment, interfering with dads parenting time or access.  Mom is punished by losing custody, money fines, and jail.  Mother’s attorney is even threatened with contempt - money fines and jail.  The children get punished with institutionalization and mental health sessions that teach them to yield to their father.
This same father smacked the elder girl so forcefully that he shifted the bones in her face.  Doctors offered two options of correction.  The more costly procedure would leave no discernable effects, the cheaper option would leave her face uneven.  Since Dad has the authority to determine medical care, and his primary concern is financial, he opts for the less costly procedure.  Mother is not permitted to oppose so she tells her daughter that she can grow her hair and angle the cut to her jawline to disguise the lack of symmetry.  In a situation where parents share primary legal custody, failure to agree would result in the mental health or legal practitioner making the decision, of course, after hours of billable interference that may include a court appearance.
Do Good Dads Require Shared Parenting?
Because non-controlling dads eventually realize that stability is paramount to children, that mom is the best person to nurture her children, he will agree to a form of custody that builds a quality relationship even if that means less physical possession and the overnight visits that reduce his support.  In a non-abusive environment time heals all wounds.  Men who treat women with respect and patience are welcomed.   Healthy parents learn to leave their resentment and needs and focus their time, money and energy on the needs of the children.  A few mothers have found that once a court disempowers an unfit father by limiting his custody, he finally stabilizes.
Beware legislation that automatically orders Shared Parenting:  A relationship that dissolved due to bad behavior is a precursor for bad behavior under any custody arrangement.  Shared parenting holds little hope for improvement where maltreatment is prevalent.

Written by Doreen Ludwig, founder of Mothers Against Court Custody Abuse,, author of “Motherless America:  Confronting Welfare’s Fatherhood Custody Program”
Dr. Leora Rosen is the author of the soon-to-be-released Second Edition of “Beyond The Hostage Child: Towards Empowering Protective Parents”


  1. We have to learn what AFCC is promoting. If two parents can't share parenting without using judicial orders, notebooks, websites, and court appointees - they should NOT be sharing parenting. Which parent made the decisions before split-up? Who did the work? Who cares about the kid more than themselves?

  2. I am in this exact situation. The father of my children have family with money, I am not from this area, I work at a job I love but is low paying. The court rules, father's have more rights than women...There is no winning in this game.


  4. Family courts in my case have favored the abuser who is emotionally and psychologically abusing his daughter.
    My concerns are dismissed and invalidated because he presents “normally”.
    I’ve been asked “Are you trying to control him”
    becauee I felt his time should include weekends since it made more sense and allowed him more parenting time.
    I’ve been told that past abusive experiences I suffered through most likely didn’t occur.
    My experiences have been minimized and current on going abuse as a co parent is his right. Apparently it is his right to micro manage my parenting yet his emotional abuse isn’t important enough to worry about.
    Family courts are biased and I’m automatically lying because I’m a woman.
    This is an outrage and his rights come before my child’s right to be free from abuse.